With the major league season winding down and the minor league season already over, we're moving into awards time once again. The Phillies give out the Paul Owens Award to the best position player and pitcher in the minor league system every year, and 2014's winners are...
J.P. Crawford and Luis Garcia!
Now, if I remembered that this award existed (I seem to forget about it every year), I would have predicted that Crawford would win it. Of course, I think Crawford is the bees knees, so I'm a little biased. But it's undeniable that the 19-year-old shortstop and 2013 first round draft pick had a great season. He began the year at Low-A Lakewood, and 60 games later he was promoted to High-A Clearwater. Across the two levels, he slashed .285/.375/.406 with 23 doubles, 11, homers, and 65 walks, and was generally awesome. Crawford was also named to the Futures Game this year, and was similarly fabulous playing for the US team.
Crawford's Owens Award counterpart is 27-year-old reliever Luis Garcia. Garcia, who might be best remembered for his time as a barber between stints in baseball, had himself a fantastic year at AAA Lehigh Valley, pitching 46 2/3 innings with a 0.96 ERA. He allowed just 35 hits and 16 walks, and notched 52 strikeouts. All good. But... Luis Garcia? Really? He was the best pitcher in the Phillies minor league clubs this year?
No offense to Luis Garcia, but when he's your Paul Owens Award winner for best minor league pitcher, you know it's been a down year.— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) September 10, 2014
Garcia allowed five straight hitters to reach in last night's Phillies game, and was removed without recording an out. His ERA in the majors this year is 12.27. (Note: that is very bad.) Of course, that doesn't matter, as the Owens Award is just for Garcia's work in the minors, which was great. However, his selection for this award is emblematic of the problems the organization has with pitching depth -- they don't have much. They did make some strides this year in that department, so it's good that they're addressing the problem, but it's one that's going to take several years to correct.
Congratulations to both Crawford and Garcia on great minor league seasons. They'll be accepting the award on the field later this week.